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Golden State losing luster?

Times Staff Writers

It’s bad news for California when a big company moves out of state. And it’s even more troubling when many of the employees decide to leave too.

Nissan North America’s Gardena site should be just about empty after today; the company is moving its headquarters to the Nashville area. About 550 of the 1,300 workers at the Gardena offices are following their jobs to Tennessee, and that 42% retention rate far exceeds the norm for such long moves. What it means, apparently, is that California’s appeal isn’t as strong as it used to be.

Real estate is cheaper in Tennessee, for one thing. And as one transplanted worker says, “Most of the stores and restaurants [at the local mall] are the same ones we see in California. Yet a few miles away you’re in downtown and there’s lots of local color too.” Page C1

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New concept at wetlands: water

The Bolsa Chica wetlands in Orange County have posed one of the most difficult environmental challenges in the state.

In the last century, the seafront acreage has seen oil extraction projects, varied cleanup problems and land-use controversies. All that has helped push the cost of restoring the wetlands to $147 million.

But now the official restoration date is in sight. When low tide comes in the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 24, engineers will move the last of 2 million cubic yards of sand, and for the first time in 107 years the 880-acre wetlands will be reunited with the twice-daily refreshing tides of the Pacific Ocean. Page B1

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Iraq official vows to clean up police

Iraq’s police sometimes are considered beleaguered heroes, sometimes predatory villains. Now the nation’s newest interior minister is promising to bring the rogues under control.

Jawad Bolani tells parliament that he’ll take steps to purge “unfaithful and corrupt elements” from the 300,000-member force, who operate under his ministry’s jurisdiction.

Among his ideas are making it clearer who’s a police officer and who’s a fraud by issuing new uniforms and badges.

Police officers often are accused of sectarian killings. Sunday, 22 bodies -- possibly victims of such violence -- were found in Baghdad and Baqubah. The U.S. also reported that four Marines were killed. Page A5

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What’s next for Mel Gibson?

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Mel Gibson’s behavior after his drunk driving arrest may test the limits of Hollywood’s forgiveness. Reports that he unleashed an anti-Semitic tirade brought condemnation from some Jewish leaders Sunday, while film industry executives would not comment. Page C1

Columnist Steve Lopez, meanwhile, says Gibson’s reported comments must feel like a slap in the face to his religious supporters. And, considering what the actor apparently said to a sheriff’s deputy, Lopez says that “out of curiosity, I’d like to try some of what Gibson was drinking.” Page B1

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Schools get lesson in subtraction

Public school enrollment in California fell in 2005-2006 for the first time in 24 years. That’s causing budget problems for school districts, because funding is tied to enrollment.

Why the decline happened and whether it will continue are hard to pinpoint, but one key factor, observers say, is the high cost of housing.

Take Santa Barbara, for example. A median-priced home there costs just over $1 million, and that’s squeezing the middle class out of town, one analyst says.

“You have rich people who don’t have kids and poor people living two or three families to a house,” he says. Page B1

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God provides, but who pays?

Stafford, Texas, has 19,000 people and 51 churches, and while that might be good for the soul, city officials say it’s hell on the tax base.

Stafford relies on sales taxes and business licenses to pay the civic bills. With only about 300 undeveloped acres left in town, lawmakers would like to prevent the land from being paved with good intentions, which means the city and its lawyers are seeking a way of legally discouraging any more houses of worship from opening.

“I don’t hate God. I’m not against America and apple pie,” one city councilman says. “We just have to protect what’s left for commercial development.” Page A13

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A call for protests in Mexico City

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador waves during a rally Sunday. He urged a huge crowd of supporters to pitch tents and camp out on the streets of the capital city until a federal tribunal orders a recount of the July 2 election, which he lost by a margin of less than a percentage point. Page A4

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CALENDAR

Danny’s trying a different game

Danny Bonaduce, who played Danny Partridge in the 1970s show “The Partridge Family,” has tried a little of everything in show business and spent a good share of his adult life in rehab. But he keeps coming back. Now, it’s on to something new, serving as the host of a GSN game show, “Starface,” involving celebrity gossip. Page E1

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Getty’s numbers now on exhibit

Ever see a co-worker’s paycheck lying unattended on his desk and thought about sneaking a peek? Well, don’t do it; that’s just wrong. Besides, if you really must be nosy, you can go to the website of the J. Paul Getty Trust and see how much money the big shots there make.

It’s part of a new policy of transparency at the Getty Trust. You can look at the trust’s tax returns, find out the salary of the interim president, and learn who got a $3-million severance payment in 2005. Page E1

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A history lesson and a few tunes

Here’s a chance to hear a firsthand account of theatrical history. Kitty Carlisle Hart -- actress, singer, panelist on the game show “To Tell the Truth” and widow of playwright Moss Hart -- will be on stage singing and telling stories this weekend.

“My career has taken a turn for the best, she says. “Now that I’m 95, I have all these engagements.” Page E3

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SPORTS

An election or a chemistry test?

Baseball inducts its latest class into the Hall of Fame, and the writers who vote on the candidates can now start wrestling with an issue that is likely to hover over the balloting for many years: steroids.

Mark McGwire will be on the next ballot. His numbers -- 583 home runs, 70 in one season -- scream for automatic, first-ballot election. But he’s also the first of the candidates to be tainted by suspicions of steroid use. Would a vote for McGwire be a vote for a great ballplayer -- or for the ballplayer’s pharmacist? Page D1

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ON LATIMES.COM

Video, photos of ‘Altered Oceans’

Special report: Latimes.com features enhancements from the “Altered Oceans” series that is running over five days in the newspaper and on the website. The website will include video clips and numerous photos from around the world and a discussion forum on the crisis.

latimes.com/oceans

School Me: Join in the debate about the future of our local education system in this ongoing series with Californians from across the social divides.

latimes.com/schoolme

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HEALTH

A drink a day keeps doctor away

Do you have to be nagged to finish your broccoli? To grind out an additional 10 minutes on the Stairmaster? To finish your beer? Come again?

A mounting body of evidence has shown that for most people, light or moderate alcohol intake is good for you. It’s the qualifier, however, that keeps most healthcare practitioners mum on the topic. It’s good for most people; for others, consuming alcohol can be a health and social disaster. Plus, crossing the line between a salutary drink and overindulgence invites a host of health problems. As one physician says, “This is a true public health conundrum.” Page F1

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Lowering the boiling point

In recent weeks, Californians have become unpleasantly familiar with the physiological toll heat takes. Although well designed to regulate temperature, even healthy young bodies can become overwhelmed by too much heat over too long a period. But precautions can help you cope with the dog days. Page F4

Elite athletes have refined these rudimentary measures and taken them to Olympian heights.

Practices such as wearing gel-filled vests and taking cool immersion baths prior to competition can delay the onset of overheating. Page F12

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May I have this slam-dance?

It sounds like the floor-rolling nonsense you used to engage in with your little brother that usually ended in tears, but a “contact improv” workout requires intense concentration and a sense of rhythm. It’s a kind of choreographed strength training among groups of two or more people that can improve balance, agility and core strength.

Throwing yourself toward another person to explore bodies in motion is like acting out for the spatially gifted. No wonder CI attracts a lot of architects and engineers who, presumably, want to put cerebral theory into physical practice. Page F1

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THE WEEK AHEAD

MONDAY

NATO moves into Afghanistan

NATO troops are scheduled to take over southern Afghanistan, replacing U.S. forces in the stronghold of the Taliban. For months, Taliban forces have been attacking there, hoping to take advantage of the shift from U.S. soldiers to some 8,000 troops who are mostly from Britain, Holland and Canada. Their ability to keep the Taliban from taking control will be crucial to Afghanistan’s future and is a major test for NATO.

TUESDAY

Tax hike sought to combat gangs

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca will ask supervisors to put a quarter-cent sales tax increase before voters in November to fund a $325-million police crackdown on gangs. Baca is continuing to press for the tax increase even though supervisors last week asked him to return with an alternative gang enforcement plan that does not involve new taxes. Supervisors will also discuss how to expand the county’s overcrowded jail system.

WEDNESDAY

Hearings in state on immigration

The House immigration field hearings continue with two this week in California. In San Diego, lawmakers on Wednesday will examine the effect of illegal immigration on healthcare, education and other social services. Saturday, House members will travel to Santee to discuss protection for federal lands used as a pathway by illegal immigrants. The hearings are among 21 scheduled in 13 states during the August recess.

THURSDAY

X Games roll into Southland

The L.A. region plays host to the action sports world again as the 12th edition of the X Games comes to Home Depot Center and Staples Center. The annual competition involving ramps, jumps, speed and finesse runs through Sunday, with finals held Thursday and Friday at Staples Center and Saturday and Sunday at Home Depot Center. Competitions: BMX freestyle, Moto X, skateboard and, for the first time, rally car racing.


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